As the Easter seasons begins, we joyfully celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection and the fruit of His ultimate sacrifice, our own salvation. We should fully assume the joy of Easter, but not completely abandon our Lenten promises. With Easter comes new beginnings, the hope of eternal life and the fulfillment of God’s promise to His Son.
Entering into this liturgical season — 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost — we should focus on integrating the renewed into our life for the rest of the liturgical year. Just as the beginning of a new year is a time to set resolutions to continue for the rest of the year, so we should view the promises of Lent.
Lent has an inherently baptismal nature. It’s a time to cleanse our souls and hearts through Lenten promises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The sacrifices and observances we take on are intended to unite us with Jesus’ suffering.
Through these 40 days of penance and prayer, we emerge with a deeper appreciation for our baptismal vows and a purer love for God, knowledge of His mercy, and devotion to His Church. These are three ways to continue the spirit of new beginnings.
The present moment is a gift. It’s easy to get caught up with planning for the future or mulling over the past. The pursuit of holiness can seem overwhelming when we look too far ahead at all we need to overcome or the growth we need to experience.
Treat each day as a new beginning. 24 hours to turn our hearts toward God; 24 hours to bring Him into every moment. Merge the humility and penance of Lent with the praise and joy of the Easter season. Turn to Scripture to inspire your daily renewal:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter: 3 – 5, New American Standard Bible
Whatever forms of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving you took up throughout Lent, discern what you can continue into the Easter season and beyond. The resolve and sacrifices we observe should not just be limited to the 40 days of Lent.
Likewise, baptism is not a one-and-done moment in our faith journey. It requires ongoing investment. Reminding yourself, and reflecting on, Jesus’ utmost sacrifice can ground you in your observances and sacrifices:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15: 13, NASB
During Lent, we are immersed in Christ’s passion — through the Gospel readings, our daily prayer, guided Lenten meditations, and our personal penances. We can lose sight of this focus as the rest of the liturgical year unfolds.
Revisit the Passion by praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, reading the Lenten gospels, or another prayerful experience. Consistently reflecting on Jesus’ suffering and death will ground our faith. We can pray:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2: 20, NASB
Lent is an intentional time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. While we don’t need to keep up the same rigor throughout the rest of the year, we can keep the penitential spirit going through ongoing observation of the Lenten promises.
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Originally published in USA Today.